Do you have a dog that gets a bit nervous when a thunderstorm hits?
A pet that runs and hides with the first clap of thunder?
Pet thunderstorm anxiety is real. So much so that countless pets across the nation are prescribed actual prescriptions (one of our relatives calls these pills they gave their beloved basset hound “doggie Xanax”) to help ease this unwanted anxiety.
Many pet owners, however, aren’t in to the whole prescription thing. Which is why several dog owners have turned to CBD when it comes the thunderstorm anxiety their canine companion tends to experience.
Does CBD work for pet thunderstorm anxiety? Is CBD really beneficial for pets?
Let’s take a closer look.
Why are Dogs Afraid of Thunderstorms?
If your four-legged friend has thunderstorm anxiety, he (or she) is certainly not alone.
It’s estimated that at least 40% of dogs experience noise anxiety, which occurs with more frequency in the summer months. Did you know that busiest days for runaway dogs showing up at animal shelters is July 5?
According to Associate Professor of Clinical Animal Behavior at the University of California Davis, Dr. Melissa Bain, “It’s very serious. It’s a true panic disorder with a compete flight response.”
Why, though, are some dogs so afraid of loud noises associated with things like thunderstorms and fireworks?
It’s simple, even if it doesn’t seem like it when your dog starts going crazy as the thunder rolls.
Many dogs are afraid of thunderstorms because they don’t understand what it is or what’s going on. The extremely loud noise can be perceived as a threat, which can in turn manifest as anxiety.
The loud unfamiliar noise, however, isn’t the only reason why dogs can become so anxious in thunderstorms. There’s research, for example, that suggests the feeling of static electricity in the air from the thunderstorm is what’s so disturbing to some dogs.
This is because the atmospheric changes can cause static electricity to build up in a dog’s coat, which can feel very similar to a painful, electric shock.
According to Director of the Animal Behavior Department at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, Dr. Nicholas Dodman, dogs can experience several shocks from static electricity during a thunderstorm.
Do thunderstorms have your dog running towards grounded spaces like the basement or bathtub? The buildup of static electricity in their coat could be why.
CBD for Pet Thunderstorm Anxiety
In case you haven’t heard, humans aren’t the only species benefiting from CBD.
More and more pet owners than ever have started using CBD for their furry friends. Pet parents are touting the benefits of CBD for their dogs and cats, claiming that it helps everything from seizures and pain to anxiety and appetite. Sounds similar to the benefits associated with humans, no?
This is because, just like humans, dogs (and other animals) have their own endocannabinoid system.
And while there’s little research (yet) to back up the claims that have changed the lives of so many pets (and their owners), CBD has become one of the most popular pet products that’s hit the market in a while.
Sales of CBD products for pets quadrupled in just one year from $8 million in 2017 to $32 million in 2018. It’s estimated that by 2022, CBD pet sales could reach almost $2 billion.
Despite the lack of clinical research that’s been conducted on pets and CBD, personal accounts from pet owners themselves have made a serious impact in sales. There’s anecdotal evidence all over the internet about ways CBD has helped people’s pets.
Take the 15-pound chihuahua with “extreme thunderstorm anxiety” who gets 2mg of CBD a day. During a spring storm in Florida, she ran up to her owner shaking and shivering. When her owner asked if it “was time for her medicine,” the chihuahua ran to the cupboard where her CBD is kept.
After giving the dog her regular dose, her owner contends she went off to take a nap with her tail wagging. “I don’t think it works that quickly,” says her owner, “but she knows she’s going to feel better after she has it.”
Joanne Schaus told CNBC that she found CBD oil for her dog online. Schaus maintains that the 11-year-old Australian Shepard named Skid “gets wired” during thunderstorms. Seeing that it storms frequently where she lives in Wisconsin, pacing and panting have become a somewhat regular occurrence.
After trying everything she could to no avail, Schaus tried CBD. She says that after a few weeks Skid’s panic attacks ended. She says, “He just didn’t even notice the storm. I can’t say it’s completely fixed him because if we get a huge thunderclap he does get a little nervous.”
Full on panic to “a little nervous” seems like a HUGE improvement to us.
What do Vets Have to Say About CBD for Pet Thunderstorm Anxiety?
While there are countless pet owners that claim CBD has significantly improved the lives of their pets, there’s simply no enough clinical evidence to back up their contentions.
Dr. Stephanie McGrath from the University of Colorado Boulder says, “There’s a lot of anecdotal stories about it but no science.”
This is something McGrath hopes to see change. She works at CSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences and began studying the effects of CBD on dogs with epilepsy and osteoarthritis after recreational cannabis was legalized in Colorado in 2012.
In her first study, McGrath found that CBD was well-tolerated in animals in certain amounts. She’s completed several studies since, which are being reviewed before being published to the public.
The results from her preliminary study showed such promise, however, that the American Kennel Club awarded her $350,000 in funding to begin a three-year crossover study.
American Veterinarian Medical Association (AMVA) spokesperson Michael San Filippo told CNBC in an email that the organization does not have a position directly related to cannabis products for pets. So, while the AMVA’s position isn’t quite clear, this hasn’t stopped several vets across the country from recommending it to their patients.
After our female dog had knee surgery, our vet asked us if we were familiar with CBD, maintaining that it would be excellent to give her after she has finished up with her prescription meds.
Here’s the thing. CBD could be exactly what your dog needs to help eradicate that thunderstorm anxiety.
But before you rush out and buy all the latest CBD products for pets, it’s vital you talk to your vet. Starting your dog out on anything new (regardless if it’s natural or not), should always be discussed with your dog’s doc beforehand.
What About CBD Dosage for Dogs?
How much CBD should you give your dog for thunderstorm anxiety?
Dosing CBD is a common concern with humans and animals alike. When it comes to dogs, just how much CBD should they take?
In a Project CBD article, Oakland-based veterinarian Dr. Gary Richter explains how to use cannabis to treat pain and inflammation in pets. While thunderstorm anxiety is a different issue than pain and inflammation, Richter’s recommendations can also be used for pets who suffer during storms.
For CBD dosing, Richter recommends 0.5-5mg CBD per 10 pounds of body weight twice a day. He advises to start low and increase the dose every 4-7 days, contending that frequent doses near the lower end of the range are effective. He also says that higher doses of CBD could be beneficial in some situations.
Like with humans, it’s best to start low and go slow when it comes to administering CBD to your dogs for thunderstorm anxiety.
We personally give our dogs CBD for different reasons.
When it comes to anxiety, our male dog reigns king. He could even be scared of his own shadow. All 75 pounds of him. We’ve found that 20mg twice a day is his sweet spot and that CBD has seemed to seriously help calm his frazzled nerves.
Our female dog is a bit smaller and receives 15mg twice a day to help her maintain healthy joints and keep that knee in the best shape possible. We’re also hoping it works preventatively as there’s a 50% chance her other knee could go at any time.
You know your dog better than anyone else. Use Dr. Richter’s guidelines as a starting point until you find the ultimate dosage for your own dog.
And yes, always, always, always talk to your vet before starting your dog on CBD. It never hurts to check and get a second opinion from a trusted vet.
Final Thoughts on CBD for Dog Thunderstorm Anxiety
At CBD School, we think our dogs are the cat’s pajamas.
And if you’re a dog owner, we’re pretty sure you feel the same.
If your dogs get anxious during thunderstorms, CBD could offer the calm they need.
No, there isn’t any clinical evidence yet. But there are plenty of pet owners that say it’s helped their own dogs.
The best thing you can do if CBD is something you’re interested in offering your four-legged friend is do your research and then talk to your vet about it. No one wants to see their dogs suffer during a thunderstorm (or anytime for that matter).
Will CBD help ease this anxious suffering?
Have you used CBD for your dog during a thunderstorm or fireworks to ease their anxiety? If so, we’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below!
Tell us your story! 🙂
Cover Photo by Jonathan Daniels on Unsplash